Archive for the Learnings Category

A New Season

Posted in Learnings with tags , on March 25, 2015 by mikekeaton

The wisdom of the sage is this…

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted, a time to kill and a time to heal…

I am reminded of the song sang by the Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn” which was their way of saying the same thing…to everything there is a season!

Spring is on its way here in Georgia and its always beautiful!  I love it when the trees bloom!  The Dogwood trees will be blooming soon and I will be reminded of my mother, who always loved the Dogwoods and Spring in Georgia.  She is with the Lord now which makes these memories even more  special to me.  I felt I was moved to take this is a picture of a cherry tree in our yard in full bloom.  I wish these blooms would grow into fruit, but this tree is just for looks, but while in full bloom it is beautiful!  IMG_0309However, just as fast as the blooms were there, they are now gone.  There are some on the tree still but most have fallen to the ground, and to be honest, the beauty is almost all passed.

This is just an example of how quickly seasons come and go and a reminder to live in the here and now and enjoy God and all His  provisions.  This is not to say we should not look back or should not plan ahead.  The thing I am learning is to look back less, and to look forward more!  Even though, from a seasonal point of view, I prefer the Winter’s and the Holidays of that Season more than the heat and humidity of Summer in Georgia. Ugh!!

Me and my family are in a new season of life and ministry.  So much has changed in our lives.  The people that surround us are different, the community we live in is different, the jobs we have are different…to everything there is a season!

Our new season is just like the Cherry Tree, bright and beautiful, not just because of the new things, but because our Lord is Faithful and Good.  The new Season of Spring and the new season’s we find ourselves in life have this one constant…the Lord is with us!  He provides all we need, even the simple beauty of a tree in bloom to remind us of His Presence and Beauty, His Faithfulness and Goodness, and A New Season.  And, if the season we are experiencing is, by our determination, not so good, then it too, will soon pass, because…to everything there is a season!  Thanks to our LORD for this Hope!!

My challenge to myself and encouragement to others is…

look back less,

look ahead more,

and enjoy looking around constantly!!   🙂

Enjoy this Season!!

 

How to handle opposition from others!

Posted in Learnings with tags , on March 4, 2014 by mikekeaton

I am sure you have experienced opposition at some point in your journey from others.  Either a boss, or coworker, or a friend (or someone you thought was your friend), a family member or sometimes it just seems like the whole world is against you.

What do you do?

Well, you could just get angry and flick everybody off and say, “who needs em?”, but that really doesn’t help because that just leads to more pain in you.  Bitterness develops and that is a hard root to pull up entirely.

So, what do you do?

I was reading this morning in Psalm 109.  The Biblical patriarch, King David, was one who experienced more than his share of opposition.  In fact, when I consider the opposition he faced to my own circumstances, I am usually encouraged a bit.  🙂

David said that deceitful mouths were opened against him.  Ever feel like people are telling lies about you?  David said people were speaking against him.  Ever feel like people are talking about you and what they are saying is not good?  David said people were surrounding him with words of hate.  Ever feel like people are hatin on you?  David said people were attacking him without cause.  Ever feel like you wondered what it was you did?  David said that people were accusing him even though all he did was love them.  Ever feel like you can’t ever do enough good for folks?

What are you to do?  What did David do?

David prayed!  He said, “I give myself to prayer”

In other words, David looked to the Lord.  Jesus did the same thing.  They both model for us how we should handle opposition.  Look to the Lord, cry out to the one who judges righteously.

Pray David’s prayer: “But you, O God, my Lord, deal on my behalf, for your name’s sake, because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!…help me O Lord, my God, save me according to your steadfast love!”

David then praised the Lord!  “with my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord, I will praise him in the midst of the throng”  We too must be careful to praise the Lord and give not just thanks, but GREAT thanks!  After all, its for His name’s sake!!

Hard to do I know and hard to conceive how this helps us deal with opposition, but we must believe the Lord see’s, hear’s, and will act in righteous judgement on our behalf, not out of pride for ourselves, but for HIS NAME’S SAKE!!

blessings,

mk

Just Trust in the Lord

Posted in Discipleship, Learnings with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by mikekeaton

“Trust in the Lord”.  those words seem like “christianeze” (def.-trite language and cliches used often by those who call themselves Christians).  Those 4 words may seem like they are trite or cliche, but truthfully they are “inspired by the Holy Spirit”, they are also “God Breathed” and according to 2 Tim 3:16 they are “profitable” for us.  profitable sounds nice, in this messed up economy, anything profitable sounds pretty good.

Just last night I was learning along with my community group about overcoming worry.  the simple remedy for worry that was offered by our teacher was to trust in the Lord and pray!

REALLY?!  Just Trust in the Lord?

seems so simplistic.

why is it so hard?  why do i worry?  why cant i just trust in the Lord?

so this morning i read in Psalm 37 these truths:

-“Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the Land and befriend faithfulness”

-“commit your way to the Lord, Trust in Him, and He will act”

-“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret not yourself…”

-“fret not yourself, it tends only to evil…those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land”

-“I have not seen the righteous forsaken”

-“the Lord will not forsake His saints”

-“wait for the Lord and keep His way”

-“the Lord is the stronghold of the righteous in time of trouble, the Lord helps them and delivers them, BECAUSE…

THEY TAKE REFUGE IN HIM!”

I think the Lord is speaking to me….ya think?!

Trite or cliche…doesnt matter, the Lord just wants me to trust Him, He promises me if i do that He will help me and He will direct my steps!!!

praying today and…t.r.u.s.t.i.n.g.

Just Trust!

how do you deal with worry and trusting in the Lord?

The cry of our hearts

Posted in Learnings with tags , , , on November 2, 2012 by mikekeaton

I am detouring today from the posts of the last few weeks concerning our finances that have been connected to our series of teachings at our church.  I think this post is highly relevant in the current political atmosphere, but, not only as it relates to politics…but also, really, our whole life.

everyday i try to read a chapter from the book of Proverbs and at least 1 or 2 from the book of Psalms.  i call it my daily dose of “wisdom and worship” 🙂  So, today i was reading Proverbs chapter 2 and Psalm 20.  I really love the 2nd Proverb, b/c it really captures the cry of my heart and should be the cry of all our hearts….the need for wisdom!!

As a church leader, husband, father, and other roles of life, I often feel so inadequate and inferior to the demands of the role and calling.  I feel there are so many smarter and better qualified people than me.  So, I constantly cry out to the Lord for wisdom…i want wisdom…i need wisdom…so i ask for it all the time!!

Verses 1-10, basically say we need to pursue it, look for it, desire it, search for it, expose ourselves to it, immerse ourselves in it and as a result…we’ll get it!!  Verse 10 says “wisdom will come into your heart”…i am still waiting for that day 🙂  i wonder if i will know it when it happens?  will i feel adequate?  will i feel like i should be leading?  will i know i am wise?  i dont know…probably not!

I am promised, as you are also, that if we seek wisdom, we will gain understanding, knowledge and wisdom of God, which is the beginning point, and from there we will know how to walk and live a life of integrity and morality, and wise choices while having the favor of God.

Dude….i need all of that!!

Now, as that applies to the current political scene.  Don’t we need wisdom to discern who and what to vote for?  This presidential election seems to me to be pretty important to our future on earth in America.  Seems like wisdom is what is needed, not allegiance to a political party or traditional bent or leaning.

Psalm 20:7 said, that there are those who trust in chariots and horses but our trust is in the name of the Lord our God.  perhaps an application of “chariots and horses” could be “candidates and houses” (houses of representatives that is)…some trust in certain candidates and their political views to be their “savior” or the one who will “fight for their rights”.  But we, BUT WE, (who is the we? perhaps…the people of God?), but we…trust in the name of the Lord our God…what is His name?

Psalm 20:5, uses the word “banners”, the name of the Lord our God that refers to “banners” is Jehovah-Nissi – the Lord our Banner…which basically means, it is the Lord our God who goes before us carrying our banner, “fighting for us, representing us”…some trust in chariots and horses, but we…we trust in the name of the Lord our God!!

We need lots of wisdom as we go and vote and really for everything in our life and everything i and you will do this day…seek wisdom, search for wisdom, let it be the cry of your heart this day, and every day!

lots of love…have a great weekend!  blessings,

mk

Bless Your Pastor

Posted in Learnings on July 10, 2012 by mikekeaton

some say it better than i could ever say it…i thought this was really, really, really, good!!  i admit that i hesitate a bit to share it, because it might be taken wrong, but, i feel compelled to do so.  i think it is a great encouragement to churches everywhere!!  enjoy!!

What our Pastors wish we knew!!

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV 1984)

My friend shocked me. She and her husband, a pastor, were not just resigning from their church, they were leaving the ministry all together. “It’s just too much,” she said with tears streaming down her face. “We gave all we could. But there were too many people who felt what we did was never enough.”

My heart sank. Sadly, this pastor and his wife aren’t alone.

According to research 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.

These numbers are heartbreaking and convicting. I’m passionate about understanding how to love and support those who lead my church. But I have to admit, I’m still learning how to apply the biblical principle of our key verse, 1 Timothy 5:17.

Paul knew that supporting and blessing the pastor was remarkably important when he said these words to Timothy and now to us all.

A wise, incredibly humble Texas pastor once told me, “Some would think double honor sounds excessive, but the reality is no one fully understands the pressures on your pastor at any given time as they carry with them the burdens of many in the congregation quietly and confidentially. This is not work that you can leave at the office, it weighs on you. I believe it is for this reason Paul calls us to double honor.”

So, how do we apply this? Here are some insights shared with me from pastors and their wives all over the country:

Do the basics consistently.
The greatest way to bless your pastor is to be one of those faithful people who attends, serves and gives consistently. This offers such assurance to a pastor and their staff. One of the most well-studied pastors I know on church leadership said, “When people do the regular basics and never make a big deal about it, the other stuff you do for your pastor is so much more meaningful. Some people try to bless their pastor on their terms and they are loud about it. They don’t tithe, but … ‘Hey pastor, you can use our lake house with strings attached.'”

Let’s bless our pastor and his staff with the basics. Give gifts without strings. And don’t toot our horn about doing so.

Let go of the unrealistic expectations.
Almost every pastor addressed the issue of inviting he and his family over for dinner. While it seems like something we’re doing for the pastor, it usually isn’t the gift they need. More than spending time with our family, they need to spend time with theirs. Bless them with gift certificates. Or schedule to drop off a meal — especially during those busy times like Easter and Christmas.

Of course, they’ll have friends where a dinner with that family is completely comfortable and refreshing. Give them the freedom to have close friends and not feel guilty or exclusive in doing so. One pastor’s wife said to me, “I think the thing that discourages me the most is people commenting on my friendships. Using the word clique to describe my friendships, rather than just being happy I have a community, is hurtful.”

Let’s bless our pastor and his family with freedom. They need friends. And it’s okay if we’re not dinner buddies.

Love the pastor’s wife.
Two pastors wrote, “Please give my wife face-to-face affirmation,” and “When my wife hears negative things about the church or me it crushes her.”

Another pastor’s wife gave insight into how to greet her so she doesn’t feel like a heel for not remembering everyone personally. She said, “It’s hard when people say, ‘Do you remember me?’ Instead, introduce yourself and remind me where we’ve met before.”

Let’s commit to our pastor’s wife the gift of kind words. As a woman in ministry, when someone commits to saying kind and affirming things about me, my ministry, and my family, it makes me feel so safe.

Don’t assume other people are encouraging your pastor.
Send notes of encouragement. Write the email telling what a difference that sermon made in your life. Don’t assume they get plenty of positive feedback—usually they don’t.

Let’s commit to not just be someone who appreciates our pastor in our hearts, but let’s let them know over and over.

Keep studying how to bless your pastor.
Become aware of how your pastor best needs to be blessed and step into that role. Make it a family mission to be one of those foundational families at church who stays out of the drama, seeks to give and not take, and stays for the long haul honoring him all the way.

And don’t forget the other pastoral staff members who serve so faithfully as well.

It’s biblical. It’s good. And while I’ve got a long way to go, I’m committed to honoring my pastors with much more intentionality.

Dear Lord, thanks for the gift of my pastor, his wife, his staff, his time. Please show me ways to give them double honor, and help me follow through on it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved. find original post here

Reflect and Respond:

Sit down with the Lord and ask Him to show you a few ways to bless your pastor this week.

While in prayer, get honest with God. Have you had unfair expectations of your pastor, his wife and family, or his staff? Repent.

Power Verse:
1 Thessalonians 5:12, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.” (NIV)

How about you??  Thoughts??

Overcoming discouragement and disappointment in ministry

Posted in Learnings on August 26, 2011 by mikekeaton

Ministry is the weirdest emotional roller coaster ride!!  There are so many encouraging days and times and also many discouraging days and times.  My experience teaches me that both of those can happen in the same day!!   Weird!!

I was reading this morning in Proverbs, Psalms and Hebrews, which is the track I have been on lately.  Psalm 147 spoke to me about this disappointment issue.  Verse 10-11 say, “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear “him”, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (emphasis mine).

this idea of trusting in the Lord and focusing on Him is not new to any follower of Jesus and me especially.  it seems that this is a reoccurring learning of mine.  Since it reoccurs, i must not be “learning it” – 🙂  Just yesterday Psalm 146 said, “blessed is the man whose hope is the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth the sea and all that is in them…who keeps faith forever”.

Keeping Faith Forever, Hoping in the Lord, Fearing Him, & Hoping in His steadfast love…these are the keys to overcoming disappointment…discouragement  and other weird days of ministry.  God doesn’t trust in the power of horses nor in the abilities of men/women.  So, why should I?  But I must admit, I do…I do trust in people’s ability and the power of “things”, “events”, “a message series”, etc .  Consequently, they let me down and I get disappointed and then discouraged, then I cant help but wonder and ask sometimes…”what’s wrong with everybody”, and of course that kind of thinking takes me down a road that is not good, at all!

And as long as I do this, I will continue to experience more disappointment, more discouragement, and more weird days of ministry. Overcoming this is found in this phrase….”blessed [not disappointed and discouraged] is the man whose hope is in the Lord his God

Not a new idea, right?  How many times have we heard someone tell us, “trust in the Lord”, how many times have we heard God’s Word tell us the same?!  If that is not enough motivation, maybe this truth is…the kind of person the Lord takes pleasure in….is the one who Fears Him, who hopes in His love.

Everything always comes back to this foundational truth…pursuing the Lord, seeking HIM, is always, always better!!!

Feeling Better already!!!  🙂

What you do today, impacts what will take place in your future!!

Posted in Learnings on April 29, 2011 by mikekeaton

“But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen…” 

-Isa 37:26

I read these verses this morning in my quiet time.  I am reading through Isaiah using the S.O.A.P bible study method.  I encourage you to try it.  Anyway, I was reading through chapters 36-38 today, about Hezekiah and God spoke to me again about the importance of what I do today.

I say again because the last 2 days I have been at the Orange Conference and yesterday God whispered into my ear these same words.  There was a speaker in one of the main sessions talking about “life in the between” which had to do with the wilderness experiences of life like the children of Israel between Egypt and Canaan.  It was powerful in my heart and mind even though I am not sure why, b/c I don’t think of myself as being “between” anything but maybe I am and don’t realize it.

Anyway, one of the things he said was the things you do as a 20 year old help determine what kind of 40 year old you will be and the things you do as a 40 year old have determining impacts on what kind of 60 year old you will be.  This spoke to me.

Then I read this in Isaiah this morning, “But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen…”  as you read the story in ch. 38 of Hezekiah’s pride and taking ownership of what God did, Isaiah announces a judgment on him that will affect his future, especially his children and the Kingdom, negatively!!  Sad thing is that God had just blessed him by adding 15 years to his life and just prior to that promised He was going to destroy the Assyrians b/c He had planned to do so long before then.

I know this is all kind of jumbled but I can’t get away from how God spoke to me through this.  it takes me back to the whole sowing and reaping principle.  Also, it reminds me of what James talks about when he says, that “when sin conceives it brings forth death.  In other words, what i do today, impacts what will take place in my future.  If I sin, then it will have consequences.  So many people live for today, do what they want, like divorce their spouses because they think the grass will be greener on the other side, or eat that second plate of food or dessert, or put that purchase on a credit card, but we all need to realize that what we do today, impacts what will take place in our future, our family’s future and the Kingdom of God.

I don’t want to be like King Hezekiah, who was blessed by God (Assyrian destruction determined beforehand), answered Hezekiah’s prayers (added 15 years to his life and healed him), but in just one…simple…act of pride…negatively affected his future, his family’s and the Kingdoms!  Wow!

I pray, that I will sow seeds of justice and righteousness that will produce a harvest of justice and righteousness that will honor the name of the Lord…for His Name’s Sake!!

mk

Repost: Charles Arn’s Caution On Being “Missional”

Posted in Learnings on March 2, 2011 by mikekeaton

I found this article to be very interesting and one I admit I agree with.  I welcome your feedback!!  enjoy!

Charles Arn, a long-time leader in the realm of church health and church growth just published a conversation-generating article on the blog of Wesley Seminary offering a caution about being “missional…

In their zeal to create the Kingdom of God in the world, some who “buy into” the missional movement seem to have (or develop) a bias against the established church. Their commitment is to “bring the Kingdom of God into the community.” But, the success of those kingdom-building efforts does not seem to be evaluated on whether those who are exposed to “the Kingdom” are ever reached and assimilated into active membership and participation in a local church.

A commitment to the great commission (Mt. 28:19-20) demands a “high view” of the church—that the church is absolutely essential. It is not a Body of Christ; it is the Body of Christ. Not just a bride, but the bride of Christ. The Church is held to be the central part of God’s plan for the salvation and discipling of people and nations. New converts must not only believe in Jesus Christ, but must become responsible members of the Church. If the Bible is to be taken seriously, we cannot hold any other point of view. Becoming a Christian means becoming a part of the Body. In fact, unless non-Christians believe and become part of the Church, personified through the local congregation, the ultimate value of our “missional” activities must be questioned. This is the high view of the Church. A low view of the Church is that whether or not you belong to the Church is more or less a matter of choice. If you like it, you belong; if you don’t, you don’t.

for the whole article click here

a different kind of encouragement

Posted in Learnings on February 3, 2011 by mikekeaton

i just wanted to share a link with you by which i think you will agree with me is a different kind of encouragement.  Many are aware of who Francis Chan is, pastor, speaker, author of two great books, which i have  really enjoyed and helped shake me up… here they are here.  if you have never read them, I HIGHLY encourage it!!  you can just click the image and order your own copy, believe me you will want one!

Well, i was having lunch with a ministry friend today and he told me about a blog post he recently read from Chan  and i read it and thought to share it here.  its a different kind of encourament b/c it’s not really like, “hey, hang in there through this trouble your in right now”, like we may think when we hear the word encouragement.  Instead, these “updates” posts on his blog are more like “perspective” encouragements, which is probably why I like his books and speaking so much.  Well, anyway, without further ado, here is the link to his updates section of his blog… Blog updates -read them, they are short, i think you will agree with me, they are a ‘different kind of encouragement!!  enjoy!!

mk

Top 25 Learnings from 2010

Posted in Learnings on January 1, 2011 by mikekeaton

Every year end/ year beginning I do a review of my leadership and life learnings by reading my journal entries and summarizing the top learnings for the year.  It is a discipline that I find helpful and encouraging.  I know it’s not for everyone, but I encourage everyone to do something like it every year.

For anyone interested here are what I have found to be the top 25 for me in 2010 from my journal.  (there could be more but you have to narrow it down to some # right?…)

1.  Negativity suck joy from me.  so, I shouldn’t be negative towards others, b/c when that happens, I lose joy!

2. I cannot wait until June of the year to “go away” on a prayer retreat

3. Holy Spirit is key for me to “see the movement” of God.  I must be Spirit-filled.

4. I need to regularly say this, “I will let you make that decision”

5. Some will “get it”, some will not!  God is sovereign & working where I cannot see, but is not working in everyone. (from Acts 17)

6. This one speaks for itself – Acts 18:9-10:

“Don’t be afraid, speak out.  Do not be silent, for I am with you and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me”

7. Discipline is key for me to stay focused!

8. Find faithful people to do life with and be friends with them

9.  God is the original seeker, He leads people to Himself!  (from the book of Ruth)

10.  I am only “1 mistake away from stupid”, so, do not compromise integrity or character (from a purity study in the book of Proverbs)

11.  My eating should be just as much an act of worship as anything I do on a Sunday A.M.

12.  Leading the people is about obeying God not pleasing the crowd (from studying the Kings of Israel and Judah)

13.  I don’t ever want to hear the Lord say what He said to Saul, “I am sorry I ever put you in leadership” (from 1 Samuel)

14.  “with Humility comes wisdom” – so, be humble and wisdom will follow – (proverbs)

15.  I am so inspired by David…he lived to honor the Lord and encourage the people…in that order, he led spiritually, “so that the people would know there is a God in Israel”…confidence in the people comes from leaders who are led by God.

16.  Humility and dignity before God…accepts God’s discipline and justice (from the life of David)

17.  God’s ppromises are backed by the honor of His name – (Psalm 138)

18.  The “good news” is that Jesus has made us right with God.  I need to tell this to everyone!  (from reading Romans)

19.  Giving frees me from worry and fear

20.  I must be non-hypocritical with encouragement and start at home!

21.  Discouragement starts with fear.  Discouragement ends with focus in action. (from life of Elijah)

22.  On Sept. 28, i chose to be happy, positive, joyul, and upbeat, full of passion, love and joy, to laugh and celebrate…I chose life…life abundant as it was meant to be and as it was given.

23.  The early church was continually “encouraged & strengthened” by Paul.  I want to be that for Crossroads.

24.  Don’t inform, inspire!

25.  I want to see the book of Acts come to life in my lifetime!!

 

Well, there they are, 25 of them, I am sure I have more, but those are the ones that really stuck out to me!!  I hope in some way they encourage you and challenge you.  Start right now, maybe with one of those new year resolution thingies, to plan to do this next year, start now by thinking…”where do I want to be this time next year?” and apply it to your life financially, spiritually, relationally, emotionally, physically and whatever else you can think of….

If you have some “top” learnings to share, i would love to hear about them, send me a message and let’s celebrate together what the Lord has done!!  Blessings…and Happy New Year

MK